Episode 276: White Supremacy Culture – “Antidotes to Objectivity.”

Do you think you know other people’s motives? A lot of us do. I remember working in a psychiatric hospital many years ago where a part of my job was to write down the observations I made about the individuals under my care. It took training to try to describe factually what I noticed in such a way that I was not implying motivations for behaviors I saw. Later in my career, as a staff educator, I would teach documentation skills to other staff – trying to help people realize that their assumptions were not facts, but rather interpretations trying to make sense of the things they observed. For example, a frustrated care staff may want to write down that a patient was “being manipulative” who kept asking for things at the nursing station, when this interpretation may have more to do with how the staff person was feeling – frustrated – than what the patient was doing – asking multiple staff for the same thing repeatedly. The word manipulative implied a negative motivation. Sometimes asking, “What was the person doing?” instead of “Why do you think the person was doing it?” helped the hospital staff to perceive how to document more accurately. None of us can tell what is in someone’s heart just by watching.

Culturally speaking, the belief that any one culture is “objective” and that other cultural ways of seeing or responding to situations is unreasonable is at the heart of the Objectivity trait of White Supremacy Culture . Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends talk about antidotes to objectivity today, using the document White Supremacy Culture by Tema Okun, a link to which is in the shownotes for this episode.